Takumar 28mm f/3.5 wide angle m42 mount lens

This is a post about this classic lens which I bought this week for use on my Pentax and Sony cameras.

As I hinted in my last post I bought this lens on eBay last Sunday evening for £34 plus £4 postage. I was amazed that I won the auction for only £34 because I’ve seen these lenses on ebay ‘buy it now’ offers for up to £70. Admittedly this example didn’t come with a lens case or hood so that might explain it, but it does have the original Asahi Pentax lens cap and bottom mount screw on cover. Sample images are at the bottom of this post.

History

The takumar series of lenses are the lenses which pentax fitted to their M42 mount slr cameras before they called them Pentax which happened at about the same time the K mount was adopted. They have a reputation as a top quality performer, but don’t attract the price tag of leica or zeiss lenses. Like most lenses there are different versions which are detailed on the Pentax Forums website. Mine seems to be a series 3 lens which makes it a quite late version – about 1971.

Description

This is a compact lens of about 2 inches in height and about 1.5 inches in diameter. The aperture adjusts from f/3.5 to f/16 with half stop clicks up to f/11 then a full stop click to f/16. There is an Auto/Manual switch just above the lens mount which sets the lens to automatic or manual operation. This lens was made to work on a Pentax spotmatic 35mm SLR, and the Automatic setting would close the aperture to the correct setting when the shutter was released. This allowed the user to view the scene and compose the image with a fully open aperture, and when the picture was taken the camera stopped the lens down to the correct setting. For use on my Sony Nex I set this to M and just adjust the aperture appropriately whilst in either Aperture priority or Shutter speed priority.

A possibly helpful tip to anyone with a similar M42 lens – when it’s not mounted on the camera the Auto/Manual switch will not operate and it’s possible to break the mechanism if you force it. There is a tiny pin on the very back of the lens next to the screw thread which enables the switch (shown in one of the pictures above). If you depress this pin with your finger nail (or if the lens is mounted on a camera) the switch should operate normally.

In operation the lens is very nice. The focus ring is nicely damped and smooth and the aperture ring has a very positive click. On the nex to M42 adapter I have the lens focuses slightly beyond infinity. This is most likely an error in the adaptor, and possibly one I could fix. Since it is focusing beyond infinity that would suggest I should push the lens slightly further away from the sensor. Since the m42 part of the adapter is held in with grub screws I could take it out and pack behind it with some thin card to correct this. However, since that would probably make very little difference to the lenses close focus I may not bother!

  • Takumar Super Multi Coated 28mm 1:3.5
  • Focal length 28mm
  • Effective focal length on APS-C 42mm
  • Maximum aperture f/3.5
  • Minimum aperture f/16
  • Mount M42 screw thread
  • 49mm filter thread

Samples

I’ve had very little time to go out and get any sample image yet but I did get these quick pictures in our garden and house yesterday; the close up images were taken with a 10mm extension tube fitted. Although I haven’t taken many pictures with this lens I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. There seems to be plenty of detail and the colours also seem to ‘pop’ nicely. I can see why these lenses are sought after.

These are all taken on my Sony Nex 6 because I don’t yet have a K-mount to M42 adapter so I can’t yet try it on the K5.

Update: 24 March 2014 – I’ve been out today and taken some shots around the town which I’ve added to the images below. To view the pictures click on the gallery below or view the pictures at full size in a new tab or window by following this link. Click on each picture (or use the keyboard arrow keys) to view the next.

The shots today have added to my impression that the Takumar lenses are a series of inexpensive gems. I suddenly have a whole new shopping list.



Categories: Photography, Reviews, Takumar/Pentax, Vintage

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. Hello Simon,
    It was this article of yours that finally persuaded me to go ahead and buy this lens – the Takumar 28mm f/3.5 wide angle m42 mount lens which arrived yesterday – but bad weather (typical!! UK) prevented me to go outdoors and try it but I tried a couple from indoors and quite excited with the results.. In the meantime I have also bought the 200 (arrived) and 85 (still to come from the States) Tak S-M-C prime lenses with adaptors to add to my Canon EOS 450 and 70D cameras. (Yes, I’m hooked) I already have the SMC 40mm lens from my Pentax ME camera – still in use and has film in it.

    But just a comment and correct me if I am mistaken. Whilst it is considered a wide angle – on my 70D, it’s not that wide but I guess that has more to do with the camera. I haven’t tried it on my Pentax camera as the lens is an M42 mount and the ME is a K mount. I’m guessing then that on my Pentax it will be a much wider lens. Am I correct?

    But I am so excited about these vintage lenses, bought through ebay and really, whilst the prices for these lenses are going up, the total of all three is still less than any one of the Canon prime lenses.

    Thank you for your interesting blogs

    Dinah

    • Thanks for the comments Dinah and for your very kind words. The 28mm refers to the focal length when used on a film camera which has 35mm film. On a modern digital camera the effective focal length depends on the size of the sensor in the camera. On my Pentax K5 the sensor is an APS-C sized sensor and I would guess your 70D is the same. On these cameras the focal length is 28 x 1.5 or 42mm. This is because the sensor is smaller than the circle of light the lens produces and only sees the middle part. I may write an article about that one day.

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